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Body & Soul: Notebooks of an Apprentice Boxerby Loic J. D. Wacquant
Synopses & Reviews
“Perhaps,” wrote Ralph Ellison more than seventy years ago, “the zoot suit contains profound political meaning; perhaps the symmetrical frenzy of the Lindy-hop conceals clues to great potential power.” As Ellison noted then, many of our most mundane cultural forms are larger and more important than they appear, taking on great significance and an unexpected depth of meaning. What he saw in the power of the Lindy Hop—the dance that Life magazine once billed as “Americas True National Folk Dance”—would spread from black America to make a lasting impression on white America and offer us a truly compelling means of understanding our culture. But with what hidden implications?
In American Allegory, Black Hawk Hancock offers an embedded and embodied ethnography that situates dance within a larger Chicago landscape of segregated social practices. Delving into two Chicago dance worlds, the Lindy and Steppin, Hancock uses a combination of participant-observation and interviews to bring to the surface the racial tension that surrounds white use of black cultural forms. Focusing on new forms of appropriation in an era of multiculturalism, Hancock underscores the institutionalization of racial disparities and offers wonderful insights into the intersection of race and culture in America.
When French sociologist Loïc Wacquant signed up at a boxing gym in a black neighborhood of Chicago's South Side, he had never contemplated getting close to a ring, let alone climbing into it. Yet for three years he immersed himself among local fighters, amateur and professional. He learned the Sweet science of bruising, participating in all phases of the pugilist's strenuous preparation, from shadow-boxing drills to sparring to fighting in the Golden Gloves tournament. In this experimental ethnography of incandescent intensity, the scholar-turned-boxer fleshes out Pierre Bourdieu's signal concept of habitus, deepening our theoretical grasp of human practice. And he supplies a model for a "carnal sociology" capable of capturing "the taste and ache of action."
Body and Soul marries the analytic rigor of the sociologist with the stylistic grace of the novelist to offer a compelling portrait of a bodily craft and of life and labor in the black American ghetto at century's end.
About the Author
Loïc Wacquant is Professor of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Researcher at the Centre de sociologie européenne, Paris. A MacArthur Foundation Fellow, he is the author of numerous works on urban marginality, ethnoracial domination, the penal state, and social theory, translated in some dozen languages. He is a co-founder and editor of the interdisciplinary journal Ethnography.
Table of Contents
The Taste and Ache of Action
Preface to the U.S. Edition
The Street and the Ring
An Island of Order and Virtue
"The Boys Who Beat the Street"
A Scientifically Savage Practice
The Social Logic of Sparring
An Implicit and Collective Pedagogy
Managing Bodily Capital
Fight Night at Studio 104
"You Scared I Might Mess Up 'Cause You Done Messed Up"
Weigh-in at the Illinois State Building
An Anxious Afternoon
Welcome to Studio 104
Strong Beats Hannah by TKO in the Fourth
Make Way for the Exotic Dancers
"You Stop Two More Guys and I'll Stop Drinkin'"
"Busy" Louie at the Golden Gloves
List of Illustrations
A Note on Acknowledgments and Transcription
What Our Readers Are Saying
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